The Career of the Earl of Essex from the Islands Voyage in 1597 to His Execution in 1610

By Laura Hanes Cadwallader | Go to book overview

THE CAREER OF THE EARL OF ESSEX 1597-1601

CHAPTER I
THE ISLANDS VOYAGE

"I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true; I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do."

TENNYSON, The Revenge

The career of the Earl of Essex during the last four years of his life is marked by a gradual loss of Queen Elizabeth's favor, and by a decline of his military reputation, at its height upon his return from his successful expedition to Spain, in 1596. Philip II, smarting under the blow which Essex had dealt his shipping in the harbor of Cadiz the summer of that year, planned a counter stroke; and a great Armada under the command of the Adelantado of Castile, sailed from Spain, in the fall to punish victorious England. But this second Armada, like that of 1588, was shattered by tempests. Numerous ships were totally lost and thousands of men perished, while the surviving force sought the shelter of the harbor of Ferrol.

Public opinion in England dreaded still another attempt at invasion and conquest by the Spanish king, and various schemes were considered for checking such an invasion. By common consent, the Earl of Essex was the one man in England qualified to carry out any plan that might be formulated. All information received from Spain confirmed the belief that Philip was quite powerless to undertake a winter or a spring campaign. Serious preparations, therefore, on the part of England, to resist a Spanish invasion, were postponed until the spring of 1597.

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